It’s a scary world out there, and there’s a lot for you as a parent to be frightened of. But what are the things you should be most freaked out about right now? Emily Writes has some suggestions.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn I was extremely anxious about almost everything. Was my baby too small? Was my baby kicking enough? Was I eating the right foods? Would the endless vomiting make my child sick? Why was pregnancy so horrible and would my child somehow know I hated being pregnant? Would I be a terrible parent?
I’m a worrier, so it wasn’t unusual that I’d angst over such a life-changing thing. I expressed my worries to a proper mother who had been mothering for six years and she told me you never stop worrying when you’re parenting. You just stay anxious for the rest of your life. Until you die I guess.
Now that I’m at about the stage she was in my parenting, almost seven years in, I can say she’s correct! I am astonished at my ability to find things to worry about when it comes to my children. Each new year brings new things to have existential crisis over. Just when I thought I couldn’t top 2018 as the year I worried about whether my child was harbouring a secret allergic reaction to bees, because he’d never been stung, and how would I know until he was stung and then what? Well, 2019 came roaring into view and I can honestly say this year has been a bumper year of things for parents to be extremely concerned about.
Now, along with old favourites – can you die from lack of sleep, will they starve to death because they don’t eat anything, porn (general), bullying, what kind of rash is that? and, of course, am I encouraging them too much or not enough? – there’s a whole new world of worries outside the door.
I’d like to introduce you to my top five parenting worry trends for 2019! These are in no particular order because I don’t know what your particular neurosis is so I’ll let you rank them yourself.
Your child is most probably going to develop a fucking horn in their head because you’re a bad parent
New research has found kids and young people are developing horns in their heads from looking at screens. University of the Sunshine Coast researchers believe that the prevalence of a new bone growth in the heads of young adults is due to shifting body posture brought about by the use of modern technology.
I was very concerned about flat head in my kids. Turns out the only upside to your children never sleeping is that their heads can’t become flat – but there’s likely no escaping my kids growing a horn. I mean, I could limit their screen time but what am I? A goddamn wizard? The way to deal with this is to start a support network for horned kids. We won’t have to facilitate because they won’t talk to each other because they’ll all be on Minecraft.
Your child is most probably going to turn into a fucking influencer and you’ll end up working two jobs to support their lazy shitasses
Instagram is regularly described as the worst thing possible for a child’s mental health. Despite explaining this to my son, he still wants to start a Te Papa squid fan account. Don’t even get me started on YouTube. Anytime I’m smugly telling another parent I don’t let my kids watch whatever shit My Little Pony slash Minecraft crossover is the latest craze my kids will loudly out me by screaming “like and subscribe” at my requests to USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE OR IT’S TIME OUT.
Earlier this month, two part-time models slash full-time entitled dillweeds collectively known as Another Beautiful Day announced that they would be taking a tandem cycling trip to Africa and needed it paid for. They revealed that one of their mothers works two jobs to fund their lifestyles and Typo wall-art tattoos. How did it get to this? I want to interview that mother so I can try to prevent my kids turning out like that.
(An added neurosis quite specific to me is that while my sons know I write for a living and have two books, they do not know that I am considered a “mummy blogger” that sneering loathsome term for “a woman who writes about her life”. The term for men who write about their lives is “writer” just FYI. How I will inform them of this is something I will work out with my therapist when I can afford one.)
Your child could suffer from a “medical mystery” that turns out to be a piece of fucking box Jesus how are we supposed to live like this
Nurturing my favourite 3am habit of reading terrible parenting stories I recently clicked “Mum freaks out over strange brown mark in baby girl’s mouth”. A mum noticed a brown mark inside her baby’s mouth. She saw multiple doctors. NOBODY KNEW WHAT IT WAS. Then a nurse noticed the mark was whiter around the edges. Only to find it was cardboard. I mean. What the fuck.
It’s rite of passage really to go into your GP thinking your child has some mysterious disease only to find out actually they just shat out a cicada shell. Right? Please tell me I’m right?
Your child is most likely going to have lasting damage from you suggesting you watch Our Planet as a family and then they see a bunch of walruses fall to their deaths from a cliff face
Look, you were just trying to watch something other than Vegetarian Minecraft (yes, it’s a thing – insert comment about how sensitive the next generation is that they won’t kill animals on Minecraft). You wanted them to see something educational. I get it. And now you need to save for therapy. And how do you answer them when they say “Why did the ice melt” and you say “climate change” and they say “NO MAMA WE DON’T HAVE THAT REMEMBER WE DID A MARCH”. I mean pass the lorazepam.
Your child is most likely going to surpass you at school so early you start to wonder if you’re actually smart enough to be an adult
Look, I really thought I had more time. Your child thinks you’re the smartest person in the world until you have to help them with times tables and you’re suddenly revealed to be an absolute dumbass. You may find yourself saying “I can help you with English and your dad can help you with maths.” But your child is still going to look at you as if you need help to get to the mailbox each day.
Maybe the key to handling all of this neurosis is flipping it. Trying to see that the things you worried about are things you should be happy about. To be fair, I’ve always known my children were smarter than me. For a start, they worry about very little – and when they’re worried they feel safe and secure enough to just ask us to talk through those worries with them. Some adults go through thousands of hours of therapy to realise talking works.
to our journalism!Find Out More
Maybe we might actually get somewhere with climate change given its impacts are so clear to us all and we can tackle this as a wider family, community, and world. I don’t think I’d ever even seen a walrus on TV when I was six so maybe the upside is: Yes, they’re seeing mutilated walrus corpses but they’re also seeing what can be done together to address this. They see the world far more than we did.
Ask any grandparent about “what their child ate” and you’ll get stories about peas shoved up noses and “that’s why we called it a pea-hole” and the time your cousin put a lock on their pants and ended up shitting their pants and they had to cut off the pants. This is a shared experience and surely an ice breaker and at least we don’t have to worry about polio (thanks vaccination).
And yes, maybe your child will grow up to be a dick on Instagram, but maybe they’ll grow up to be the person who stands up for someone else on Instagram, the kid who inspires other kids like the awesome cicada kid, or the awesome kid who helps to build playgrounds, or the awesome kid who saves elephants or the awesome kid who wants to save the planet.
I haven’t quite figured out how having a horn is a benefit but we just don’t know. Maybe it will be. And then the kids without horns will be the weird ones. It’s evolution baby. And we’ll get there in the end.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.